Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: A Status Report

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American Council on Education


The racial and ethnic makeup of the United States has changed substantially since the country’s founding, with dramatic changes occurring in just the last 20 years. It is well known that the over 50 percent of students from communities of color in public K–12 schools will, in the very near future, be the majority of the U.S. adult population. Racial and ethnic diversity comes with a host of benefits at all levels of education and in the workforce—greater productivity, innovation, and cultural competency, to name a few. Moreover, the current and future health of our nation—economic and otherwise—requires that the whole of our population have equitable access to sources of opportunity. This report examines over 200 indicators, looking at who gains access to a variety of educational environments and experiences, and how these trajectories and their outcomes differ by race and ethnicity. These data provide a foundation from which the higher education community and its many stakeholders can draw insights, raise new questions, and make the case for why race still matters in American higher education.



social justice, social mobility, equal opportunity in education, racial segregation